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It is my belief that you have to give more than you get if you want to succeed at work, in business, and in life in general.


From my first job as a flower shop assistant, to my career on Wall Street, to becoming an entrepreneur, and now an author and a coach… I’ve applied this attitude. I believe that NOBODY is below me and I strive to treat people as I would like to be treated as a client, manager, employee or a friend.


It’s increasingly rare to find this attitude in today’s age of entitlement, zero-sum game and “get rich quick” offers.


Very often, people of all ages expect to achieve success by getting more than they give, by expecting and demanding perks and privileges although they have not yet “earned success”. Yes, you need to invest in yourself and give it your all – time, effort, patience, determination, discipline, money – to move toward your goal. Path to success – financial, business, personal, etc. – is not a straight line. Most successful people failed numerous times before they found what works for them, what they can GIVE, what VALUE they can offer to others.


“But how can I GIVE if I am in a financial ditch right now?” you may ask… “I have a BIG vision for my life but how do I get there from where I am now?”


I love when people have big dreams! It’s awesome if you want to make a difference in a world, to become wealthy while doing what you love! But you need to start somewhere and if you are struggling with paying your bills and have growing credit card debt, you may need to start with small baby steps. I love baby steps – they allow you to change the pattern and move in a right direction with manageable effort.


Today I am going to share with you a small step you can take to improve your financial status. It’s not as sexy as dreaming BIG or reading about Law of Attraction (which are important as well). However, if you make an effort to learn about your spending habits and calculate your spending rate, you may change your relationship with money and be on your way to financial freedom in a near future! Yes, it can make a huge difference in your life because AWARENESS, INTENTION and INSPIRED ACTION are the factors that drive you to desired destination.


Annual Spending Rate Calculation


I invite you to discover two steps to creating a spending strategy—one that allows you to live your best life, free from financial stress and filled with possibilities and joy.


Step 1: Determine the size of your spending jar—your Annual Spending Rate (ASR). Take some time and, using an Excel spreadsheet, list the 12 months of the year along the side and make two columns at the top:


  1. Must-Have—Must-Pay
  2. Nice-to-Have—Choose-to-Pay


Now, enter your necessary monthly expenses into the Must-Have—Must-Pay column: rent, food, clothes, transportation, utilities, medical insurance, student loans, taxes, etc.


Next, enter your arbitrary monthly expenses into the Nice-to-Have—Choose-to-Pay column: phone, computer, car, gas, transportation, insurance, TV subscription, entertainment, eating out, clothing, etc.


Step 2: Add all monthly amounts from these two columns. This total amount is your ASR.


Once you have your ASR number, make sure that your Nice-to-Have–Choose-to-Pay amount doesn’t increase every year!


If you truly want to achieve financial freedom, you must know your ASR in order to be aware of your spending habits. Your monthly spending rate is very important but I suggest calculating the ASR because there are some annual expenses like home insurance, car insurance and taxes.


Bottom line—make your spending money jar big enough to be able to enjoy life but small enough to allow you to fill your saving and investing money jars fairly quickly.


Read more about ways to achieve Financial Freedom next week.


To Your Heath, Wealth and Freedom!


With Love and Gratitude,





Millen Livis

To learn more about Millen and her mission of Financial Freedom, click here

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12 responses to “It’s Not Sexy but It Works: How To Master Your Spending”

  1. Suzie Cheel says:

    Millen this is a wonderful exercise I have a daily /monthly expense tracker , and I like how you have split up the 2. Must have and Nice to have I will look more closely at my ASR thank you

    • Millen Millen says:

      Glad to know that you use the expense tracker, Suzie, thank you for sharing! Money likes discipline…Yes, it helps to be aware of necessary and “nice to have” expenses. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Kimba says:

    Great financial advice here! Really, this should be required reading for all college age kids.

    • Millen Millen says:

      Yes, I agree, Kim… Developing the awareness about spending money would save so many people (especially young adults) from unnecessary and totally avoidable financial ruins down the road. Thank you for your contribution to this conversation.

  3. This is such a great reminder. Thank you for putting it so succinctly and making it easy to implement.

  4. When our coach asked me how much did I want to earn this year I was not prepared to answer. Then, do I know how much product do I need to make & sell? Again, not prepared- so we set out to figure this out & will be visiting it quarterly. On my own, I would not be looking at it. Not native to structure, system, numbers, so it often doesn’t make it to my todo list.
    However, I see that is not good business practice. I live within my means so no dangers here, but it is a different mindset running a business. I enrolled my accountant as my accountabilty partner & am keeping better records. Baby steps, and I’m stepping.

    • Millen Millen says:

      Thank you for sharing, Roslyn! Money likes purpose… and clarity. I am sure that working with your coach and finding clarity about your financial goals and milestones will help you elevate your business success even further!

  5. Sounds like a great system to me Millen, though I must admit I already tend to be a bit of a micro-manager when it comes to my money. I am also a big fan of baby steps – with a disclaimer. Everyone talks about how the journey is the important thing, but without a destination in mind, it’s awfully easy to wander and never get anywhere in particular. I have big lifetime goals, and I create smaller goals around those big dreams. I am open to scenic detours because sometimes they take you places better than you might dream about on your own. But the big dreams keep me moving in the direction to create the life I want and deserve.

    • Millen Millen says:

      Thank you for sharing, Marquita! Some people develop money discipline only after a financial disaster. Apparently, you have natural discipline approach to money, which is great. I agree with you about importance of big dreams and then reverse-engineering them into small baby steps. The idea is to move forward regardless how small or big this forward movement is… and taking detours is part of the journey, hopefully most of them are scenic detours… Beautiful sharing, thank you!

  6. Summer Price says:

    This is a nice way to break our spending down. Good glimpse of your must-haves and nice-to-haves.

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  • ::Millen has a way of opening up conversations that not only make you feel safe to talk about money, but her questions have been so profound that they have made immediate shifts in my mindset and my circumstances have changed almost immediately too, including more money showing up, but more importantly, more and more opportunities.  I have found new and inspired direction, and am feeling a lot more peaceful and excited about life in general. Millen offers so much value and a solid advice! She is a big picture thinker and it is infectious! Thank you, Millen, from the bottom of my heart and the top of my soul.

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